Annetta Mae Peterson Joers

1915 - 2012

Annetta Joers, a pianist, organist, and singer, taught music in two Seventh-day Adventist academies and privately for many years. She also was active as a church musician in several Adventist churches.

Annetta was born in Woodburn, Oregon, the youngest of five daughters born to John and Lena Mortenson Peterson. Although their parents were not musicians, they enjoyed music and provided opportunity for lessons to their children. All of the girls played piano and sang, including Annetta who started piano lessons at age eight.

She attended Columbia Academy in Battleground, Washington, where she studied with Stanley Walker, an inspiring young pianist and organist who resided in nearby Portland, Oregon. In later years he would be remembered as her most influential music teacher. She graduated from the academy in 1933. After staying out for a year to work, she enrolled at Walla Walla College, now University, where she continued lessons under Walker, when he joined the music department in 1935. In the yearbook for 1935-1936, she is pictured at the organ taking a lesson from Walker.

For a number of reasons, Peterson's music study at WWC was delayed. She returned to full-time study in 1942 and completed her degree in music in 1945. She enjoyed a reputation as an accomplished singer and performer on both piano and organ. In addition to participating in the A Cappella Choir, she sang in the Treble Clef Club, a women's chorus, and in a girls' trio, was featured as a vocal soloist, and played piano in the orchestra.

In the final choral program of the year in May 1944, she was one of two students who sang a solo. She was the soloist in a concert presented by the male chorus in February 1945, singing the contralto solo in The Alto Rhapsody, Opus 53, by Brahms, accompanied by the chorus, directed by John T. Hamilton, and organist Warren Becker. In April of that same year, she sang in a girls' trio with Elaine Myers (later Taylor), and Kathleen Thompson that toured on behalf of the college to Auburn and Yakima Valley academies with gifted student violinist Anka Marie Moravek and piano teacher Sterling Gernet.

Following graduation, Peterson taught at Auburn Academy until 1948, when she married Lawrence E.C. Joers a Seventh-day Adventist surgeon who had served in the Navy as a medical officer on the West coast and in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He would become a well-known physician and hospital administrator and a popular speaker and writer on both medical and religious subjects.

In 1951, they moved to Zion, Illinois, where he completed his service in the Navy as medical officer for the ninth Naval District at the Great Lakes Training Center. While they were living there, she did some graduate work in music at Northwestern University, where Walker, her most influential teacher years earlier had completed both his bachelor's and master's degrees.

The Joerses moved to Oklahoma in 1955, where he practiced medicine in Ardmore, and then Jay, for 23 years. In Jay he was responsible for the local hospital's becoming part of the Adventist health care system in 1969 and then served as its administrator until three years before his retirement in 1978.

Wherever they lived, Annetta gave piano and voice lessons. While they were living in Jay, she directed the choir and taught piano and voice at Ozark Academy in nearby Gentry, Arkansas, from 1965 to 1968. She introduced each of their four children to music, and two of them have since assisted in church music. Annetta assumed responsibility for music in the churches they attended and served as pianist or organist as needed.

Lawrence enjoyed music and composed a cantata, Behold, He Cometh, using Bible texts to describe the Second Advent of Christ. Parts of it were first performed at Southwestern Junior College, now Southwestern Adventist University, in the 1950s, and again in 1971, on the occasion of "L.E.C. Joers Day," a day set aside by the Jay city council to honor him and his work. John Reed worked with Joers in preparing and arranging final copy of the work and Reed published it in the 1970s.

Because of the Joerses' shared interests in music, they supported music activities at SWAU while living in the Southwestern Union Conference. In 1970, they contributed a two-manual four-stop harpsichord to the school and, in 1972, donated $25,000 towards the fundraising for a pipe organ in the auditorium in Evans Hall.

They retired to Reedsport, Oregon, where he helped strengthen and pastor the local Adventist church. They were living there when he died on June 5, 1999 at age 98. In 2007, she moved to Clinton, Arkansas, where she lived in her own home on a homestead near their son, Lawrence E.C., Jr. (Skip), until her death on August 28, 2012, at age 96.


Sources: Interview with Annetta Peterson Joers and daughter Linda, 17 February 2011. Conversation with L.E.C. (Skip), Joers, Jr., February 2011; Walla Walla College year book, The Mountain Ash, 1934-36, 1942-1945; Walla Walla College newspaper, The Collegian, 18 May 1944; 22 February 1945; 19 April 1945; The Record, 14 December 1955, 6,7; 1920 U.S. Census Records; The News-Palladium, Benton Harbor, Michigan, 14 July 1955, 6; Review and Herald, 27 February 1969, 20; 11 March 1971, 25; 23 July 1970, 21; 10 February 1972, 28;